January 29, 2010


Afghan Men Struggle With Sexual Identity, Study Finds (Fox News 1/28/10)

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns -- though they seem to be in complete denial about it.

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns -- though they seem to be in complete denial about it. [...]

The U.S. army medic also told members of the research unit that she and her colleagues had to explain to a local man how to get his wife pregnant.

The report said: "When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked, 'How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.'" [...]

The report also detailed a disturbing practice in which older "men of status" keep young boys on hand for sexual relationships. One of the country's favorite sayings, the report said, is "women are for children, boys are for pleasure."

The report concluded that the widespread homosexual behavior stems from several factors, including the "severe segregation" of women in the society and the "prohibitive" cost of marriage.

Tribalism is the enemy, one that Islam had meager success overcoming. And in the absence of a culture you get boy gangs.

Has the West got the will to carry on shedding blood for Afghanistan?: The strategy is finally right, but our resolve could be starting to waver (Con Coughlin, 1/29/10, Daily Telegraph)

Undoubtedly the biggest failure of Western policy-making since those heady days has been the inability to appreciate fully the threat posed by the Taliban, and the organisation's ability to terrorise large swathes of the country even though it was no longer in power. This miscalculation not only lay at the heart of the West's decision to turn its attention towards Iraq in 2002, but also was behind the mistaken belief that the Taliban was finished, which persisted throughout the decade. When the British Government agreed to send troops to Helmand in the summer of 2006, in support of the
Nato-led reconstruction effort, a total of 3,500 were deemed sufficient to control a region the size of Wales. By the time the current force of 10,000 has been supplemented by 20,000 US Marines, the total fighting strength will be 10 times that of the original contingent.

The arrival of the Marines and other reinforcements is part of the military surge planned for this summer. It is designed to destroy the remaining Taliban strongholds, both in Helmand and in other regions. People might question how a strategy that is bound to increase the bloodshed – in the short term, at least – can be squared with the attempts to achieve a political reconciliation that were widely discussed at yesterday's conference.

The answer is that a political settlement will remain elusive so long as the Taliban has the capacity to undermine efforts by Nato and the Afghan government. Maintaining the military pressure is also a vital part of the wider strategy to persuade the Taliban to lay down its arms and enter political dialogue. There is only so much carnage the parents and families of the young Taliban fighters who have perished in their thousands can stomach.

The other big factor that has undermined the West's handling of the conflict has been its failure to comprehend the nature of the Taliban. The organisation, which was founded by a small group of Islamist extremists, was conceived by Pakistan's ISI intelligence service as a counterweight to India's attempts to develop its influence in Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. Although the Taliban managed to take control of the country by the end of the 1990s, its strength derived from the small group of Islamist extremists around Mullah Omar, who controlled the organisation. This was reflected in the small number of fighters who fled the country in 2001: many Afghans who had supported the Taliban simply switched their allegiance to the new government.

The reason the Taliban is so strong today is not because millions of Afghans have suddenly been converted to its uncompromising ideology, but because it has persuaded the fierce Pashtun tribesmen in the inhospitable border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan to support its cause. The Pashtuns, who traditionally dominated the country's political institutions, feel disenfranchised by the settlement negotiated after the Taliban's overthrow.

It's long past time for the creation of (or recognition of) a nation of Pashtunistan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2010 12:02 AM
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